Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Trust Your Gut

February 2013

The weeks to come after arriving home from Colorado were filled with much activity. As expected there was a lot of physical therapy trying to rehabilitate this right shoulder but there was also a lot of apprehension. The cortisone injection Dr. M gave me February 1st wasn't providing a lot of relief. I had to force myself to ditch the shoulder brace when it was almost March. I was still getting the sharp pain and couldn't move my arm more than a couple inches; however, I figured I would "get used to it" like I have with other pains in my body. Dr. M said if things weren't improving in physical therapy after 3 weeks the next step would be doing an arthroscopic surgery to take a look in my shoulder to see what was going on. Instead of doing 3 weeks of physical therapy I ended up doing 9 weeks. At 9 weeks my motion wasn't improving and I was still having a lot of issues. I contacted my medical team in Colorado and the plan was to have me come out in April for 2 weeks to meet with physical therapy and with Dr. M.

The pictures below are from March 6, 2013. Almost four months after surgery and that's the amount of motion I had with the "help" of the cortisone. 

I could/still can only move my arm this far
To this day, I can only raise my arm this high before I get the sharp/stabbing pain
I took the semester off from school because I had a ton of rehabilitation ahead of me
The lack of motion makes it really hard to do basic functional tasks...
As if dealing with the right side isn't enough, the left side has a whole list of problems too
Even though it was really, really difficult with all of the medical stuff going on, there were other things happening in my life to look forward too. It's these things that basically help give me the motivation to keep plugging along one day at a time. Once again, you have to incorporate happy things into your life. For me the happy/fun things are the reminders that there is more than just medical stuff in my life.

On March 9th my mom and I took my nieces to see their first professional soccer game. We had gotten them tickets as a Christmas gift and it was a much anticipated event. Both of my nieces played soccer, and before I became injured I was a soccer player; needless to say my mom had a lot of practice cheering us on (my dad too for that matter). We had a lot of fun at the game.

My mom and I. We made it to the stadium!
Waiting for the game to start with my nieces. 
A surprise visit from the mascot Sparky
March 22, 2013 was such an AWESOME day. My nephew Justin was born! Now I have two nieces and two nephews. I can't believe he is going to be two years old in just a few short months already. They sure don't stay little long and time sure does fly by!
My nephew Justin who is such a sweetie. If you have arm/shoulder issues
prop with pillows if you have too to make holding something easier 
In April my mom and I flew back to Colorado to follow-up with my medical team. Our initial plan was to meet with the physical therapy team for one week and then the following week meet with Dr. M. April 8, 2013 was day one of physical therapy. I told my physical therapist I will try to do whatever he wanted because I wanted him to see that there is something wrong. After my first appointment he was not pleased with my range of motion 5 months out from surgery. I tried doing various shoulder exercises and there was sharp pain and my arm wouldn't really move. The only good news was I did have a little strength which showed my arm had potential. During my second physical therapy appointment that day, my shoulder shifted forward twice and my physical therapist had to manipulate it back into place. Later that day I received a call from the clinic that my appointment with Dr. M had been moved up to the very next day.

April 9, 2013: I met with Dr. M and he reviewed the MRI images of my right shoulder that were done before the appointment. Again, nothing really showed but something was obviously wrong. Dr. M decided surgery was necessary. I asked when he thought I would be having the surgery and his response was, "Tomorrow." Talk about a quick change in plans!

April 10, 2013: Surprise surgery day. This was not on my list of "Things to do" for this week at all. During surgery a loose suture anchor was found. I had been saying since January when the pop in my shoulder happened that it felt like an anchor had popped because it was similar sensation to the two previous times. I was told it would have shown on MRI...it didn't. Good thing I was adamant that was something was wrong, and I trusted my gut. Surgery also revealed there was tearing of the allograft, type I SLAP tear (partial tear and degeneration of the labrum (cartilage)), and the arthritis had progressed further in areas. In November 2012 I had diffuse grade 2 and grade 3 arthritis on my humeral head and glenoid. Five months later I had diffuse grade 3 and grade 4 arthritis (there are 4 stages of arthritis with stage 4 being the most severe. There is loss of joint space and you're bone on bone...just what every 23 year old wants to hear..not). I also had evidence of adhesive capsulitis which is commonly referred to as frozen shoulder. During surgery they did manual manipulation, extensive glenohumeral debridement (cleaning out of the shoulder joint), subacromial decompression, subcoracoid decompression, subcoracoid bursectomy, as well as multiple deep tissue biopsies. It was the first shoulder surgery that I ever had that didn't involve a big open incision; it was done strictly arthroscopically (tiny incisions looking in the joint with a camera). Honestly, recovery was not hard at all. In comparison to my previous surgeries it was a piece of cake. It didn't even feel like I had surgery even though Dr. M said he did a lot of work in my shoulder. From a pain perspective my left side hurt a ton more than my right (surgical side)...for the time being.
Waiting to be wheeled back to the operating room
Pictures of the inside of my R shoulder joint
Physical therapy started the very next day after surgery. I went two times a day for the next week and a half while I was in Colorado. While we were there, 16 inches of snow occurred in one day! It was so pretty. We didn't have to drive anywhere in the snow so we enjoyed it even more.
Very pretty, isn't it? 
Fortunately with this surgery I didn't need to wear the brace long. It was worn
on an "as needed" basis. We went for a short walk to the creek so I just stuck
my hand in my jacket pocket to act as my "brace".
Sure enough this trip to Colorado had come to an end and we were back home in Illinois. We were home in Illinois just long enough to pack and turn around to head back to Colorado and stay for a little over two months to do a ton of physical therapy and see if we can get these arms functional. Who knew those next 2+ months was only the beginning of figuring out the "beast" that lives in my shoulders...

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